The N.C. Association of ABC Boards conference was held at the Marriott Grande Dunes Hotel in Myrtle Beach. There were sessions on ethics and the legislative outlook for the state's alcohol laws.
There was also a session on handling the news media, although its hard to say whether that session included any advice about sending state dollars out of state for a long weekend conference. The conference wrapped upon the same day Gov. Bev Perdue signed into law a bill meant to curb abuses and conflicts of interest by local boards.
Now there's nothing illegal about having a conference out of state, but it doesn't sound great either. The association has received the message on its out of state events. The contract for the most recent conference was signed two years ago and would have been expensive to break.
"We've taken a lot of criticism on that," said Joe Wall, executive director of the N.C. Association of ABC Boards. "We're not going to be beat up on that anymore because we're not going to do that anymore."
This isn't the first time the conference has gotten less than positive attention. In 2007, news reports noted a conference, then held in Asheville, featured lots of drinks and subsidized golf outings provided by liquor companies.
Wall said the conference was held at Myrtle Beach because there just aren't any hotels in the state that could accommodate the whole group at a time. A previous conference at Wrightsville had the group split between a couple hotels.
"I think the question somebody should be asking the governor and our travel — the people that are promoting travel in North Carolina — is why we don't have a first-rate modern hotel on the coast somewhere in North Carolina that can handle groups of 300 or 400," Wall said.